BACKGROUND: Screening for patients with asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction is of considerable importance because they may benefit from early treatment with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors. It has been suggested that atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), and cyclic guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP) might be useful markers for screening. OBJECTIVE: To compare directly the power of the three immunoreactive forms of ANP (CT-ANP, beta-ANP, NT-ANP) and BNP and cGMP to detect asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction. METHODS AND RESULTS: Radionuclide ventriculography was used to study left ventricular ejection fraction in 37 patients with asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction, 32 patients with mild to moderate congestive heart failure, and 38 controls. CT-ANP, NT-ANP, beta-ANP, BNP, and cGMP were measured at rest and 3 minutes after exercise. Plasma BNP was the most sensitive marker for patients with asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction but it reached only a sensitivity of 58% and a specificity of 76% at rest and a sensitivity of 65% and a specificity of 84% after exercise. Combined measurements of all natriuretic peptides and cGMP did not improve the power to detect asymptomatic left ventricular function above that of a single BNP measurement. CONCLUSIONS: Although natriuretic peptides and cGMP measured at rest and three minutes after ergometry may be useful for monitoring left ventricular dysfunction they are unlikely to be suitable for more general routine screening for completely asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction.
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